Nobody likes a try-hard. Harsh, but true. And by "try-hard," I'm referring to those people who are so eager for connection, for acceptance, that they become off-putting. We all know at least one.
Unfortunately, as wedding business owners, we're all in a position to have to sell our services - in a sense, sell ourselves - and, by its very nature, selling requires trying. We're all out here, putting our best foot forward, asking people to give us their hard-earned money. To a certain degree, we have to be vulnerable, which isn't easy for most of us. It's easy to come across as desperate.
It doesn't help that some "business experts" out there are still shilling old-school sales advice,: encouraging business owners to hold their cards close to their chest, withhold pricing as long as possible, do whatever it takes to finagle a meeting. If you can just get the customer face-to-face, you can persuade them to buy, these so-called experts insist.
The thing is, this doesn't work.
Not in today's marketplace, where prospective clients expect to be able to find the information they need instantly and are more aware than ever of what constitutes "used car salesman" tactics. Another thing prospective clients deal with? Trying overload.
It's not just couples getting married, of course. It's all of us. Think about this: how many unsolicited emails do you get in a week? How many mailing lists have you been added to without your knowledge? How many unwanted phone calls do you (or your business) receive? How conscious are you of when you're being actively sold to, versus when you're just being provided with what you need to make the buying decision that's right for you?
It's maddening, right? None of us like it. So why do some of us become try-hards when it comes to making sales?
I guess it's some combination of the aforementioned outdated sales advice, perhaps a bit of stubbornness about how business has changed, an attachment to our idea of what a prospective client should be willing to receive from us (more on that on Friday), a misguided approach to what constitutes good customer service in 2016, and good old-fashioned insecurity.
Regardless, this trying-too-hard approach to sales is hurting your business, and it's likely hurting other businesses within the wedding industry.
What you may see as expressing genuine interest in a customer, or as providing attentive service, may very well be alienating the increasing number of millennial clients who find your practices pushy, overbearing, desperate, even predatory. (Who wants to be interpreted like that?)
These practices are what lead (or at least contribute to) couples to move cautiously through wedding shows, cutting a wide berth around vendors' displays and eyeing every booth suspiciously, as though you might reach out and grab them at any moment. These practices are what lead (or at least contribute to) prospective clients giving fake emails and phone numbers on contact forms, or refusing to provide their last names or mailing addresses, for fear of being sucked into a vortex of endless followups and "courtesy calls."
Of course the problem isn't just because of you. However, consider that most engaged couples have attended at least one wedding show, if not multiple, and have reached out to multiple vendors in each service category. By the time their wedding day arrives, they'll likely have been added to countless email lists, and may have had their contact information sold 20 times over.
My suggestion is this: if you find yourself struggling to connect with prospective clients, if your sales are suffering and no one seems to be responding to your efforts to help them, take a big step back. Drop the endless rounds of emails and calls. Decide on a more minimalist approach (for example, a first followip a few days after an inquiry, a second followup a couple of weeks later, and maybe one last followup a couple of weeks after that, before you drop them from your radar and just move on).
I can virtually guarantee that it won't hurt you any more than the try-hard approach. What it will do, though, is free up more of your time for things that will actually help. With the time you're saving on pestering uninterested clients, you can do one or all of the following:
- Update your website copy so it provides more of what prospective clients really want to know
- Create a social media campaign that piques interest and motivates clients to want to hire you
- Network with other pros to build stronger referral relationships
- Conduct research within your industry for a better understanding of what differentiates you
- Work on a new package, product or service offering to better meet your clients' needs
Focus your time on energy on building a business that clients want to book. Create that demand. Because, trust me, in-demand businesses don't have to waste time on try-hard tactics. And they wind up with more invested, better suited, overall happier clients as a result.
We'd love to know what followup techniques have - and haven't - worked for you, and how you'll be spending your time to improve your business. Feel free to leave a comment, or join the conversation on social media!